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Swing Shift Ruffles 


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Swing Shift Ruffles 

Written By: Christine Haynes 


Iron (1) 

Marker (1) 

Paper (1) 

a roll of paper works best. 

Ruler (1) 
or T-square. 

Safety pin (1) 

Scissors (1) 

Sewing machine (1) 

Straight pins (1) 


Muslin (1) 

Elastic (1) 

amount depends on your sizing. 

Fabric (1) 

of your choice amount depends on your 



This project is like learning to make a whole closet full of skirts and dresses. Follow the 
steps and you'll have a simple dress or skirt that is endlessly alterable. 

For the dress, you can make it as a halter, with shoulder ties, with straps, or strapless. 

The skirt is made with a simple elastic waistband, but is brought up a notch with the addition 
of circular ruffles, which are incredibly easy to make in the length of your choice. Make them 

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Swing Shift Ruffles 

long for a full flounce, or make them short and sweet — it's completely up to you. And once 
you learn how easy it is to make ruffles, you'll be putting them everywhere. 

Step 1 — Make a ruffle pattern. 


• To make a circle pattern (donut-shaped) for the ruffle, determine how long you'd like your 
ruffles to hang. To make the ruffles the same size as I have, use the following 
measurements. For the large ruffles on the dress: 25" diameter with a 7"-diameter center 
circle. For the small ruffles on the skirt: 10" diameter with a 3 1/2"-diameter center circle. 

• Using either muslin or paper to create your ruffle pattern, make a mark for the center of 
the circle. Measure out from this center point to where you want the outer circle to be, and 
mark dots in equal distance from this center point. Connect these dots to make a circle. 

• Marking from the same center point, measure the distance for a center circle. Again, mark 
dots in equal distance from the center point and then connect the dots to make the center 

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Swing Shift Ruffles 

Step 2 

• Using a ruler, make a straight line to connect the small center circle to the outside larger 
circle. Now you should have what looks like a donut with a line on one side. 

Step 3 

• Following the line you just drew, cut along to the center circle. Next, cut along the outside 
circle, then around the small center circle. Now you have a circle ruffle pattern. 

• Pin the pattern to your fabric and cut around the outside of the large circle, then cut the 
center circle and the line that connects the 2. Open the ruffle so that the center circle 
becomes a straight line, and you'll see how the center circle becomes the top of the ruffle, 
and the rest flows down to make the flounce. 

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Swing Shift Ruffles 

Step 4 — Make the dress/skirt pattern. 

Size Top width Bottom width Length 

Extra Small 
















• The basis for both the skirt and dress is a simple A-line shift dress. It isn't fitted, so sizing 
is quite easy. The versions I've made for the project are for a size small. Use the 
measurements in image 2 to make your dress or skirt look like these. 

• These measurements are for 1/2 of the dress or skirt. You'll be making 2 pieces and 
sewing them together at the side seams. 

• To make the pattern, measure out the top width using a ruler and marker. Find the center 
point of the top width. From that point, measure and mark down the length of your choice. 
Do the same from each end point of the top width. You should now have what looks like a 
big E. 

• Take your bottom width and cut the number in half. Measure and mark that half 
measurement on either side of the center point along the bottom width. Using a ruler, 
connect the corners of the top width to the bottom width. 

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Swing Shift Ruffles 

Step 5 

• Cut out the dress and skirt pattern by cutting around the outside lines. This is 1/2 of your 
dress or skirt. The front and back of the dress/skirt are mirror images, so to cut out the 
pieces, place the pattern on your fabric and cut it out twice. You can fold your pattern in 
half and place it on the fold of your fabric to save cutting. 

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Swing Shift Ruffles 

Step 6 — Sew the dress/skirt with ruffles. 

• Using a zigzag stitch, finish off all raw edges of the cut fabric you'll be using. Then line up 
your 2 pieces, right sides facing, and stitch the side seams together using a straight stitch 
and a 5/8" seam allowance. 

• It may take multiple ruffle circles joined at the short ends to go around your garment. 
Eyeball how many it might take, and connect them on the ends with right sides facing. For 
my examples, I used 5 ruffles on the dress at its widest point, and 7 ruffles on the skirt at 
its widest point. Once you have as many joined as needed, with the wrong side of the ruffle 
facing the right side of the dress or skirt, line up the top of your ruffle with the top edge of 
the dress or skirt and pin in place. 

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Swing Shift Ruffles 

Step 7 

• When you go around the whole top and the 2 short ends meet, you might have some ruffle 
left over. If so, fold back 1 side and trim, leaving yourself the 5/8" seam allowance to 
attach the 2 ends together. Stitch the 2 short ends together, right sides facing, and pin to 
the dress. 

• Stitch the ruffle to the top of the dress with a straight stitch. Press up the hem of the ruffle 
and stitch in place with a straight stitch. Flip up the ruffle and measure from the seam 
down to where you'd like to sew the next ruffle. There are no rules on how close or far it 
needs to be. This is all up to you and will depend on how long your ruffles are. For the 
dress, I placed the ruffles 6" below, so there would be 3" overlapping. Pin the ruffle to the 
dress, and repeat to attach and finish the next ruffle. 

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Swing Shift Ruffles 

Step 8 

• Repeat for each additional ruffle, until you've attached as many as you'd like. 

• Press up the hem of the dress or skirt and stitch in place with a straight stitch. Fold the top 
of the dress or skirt down 1 1/2", including the ruffle, into the inside of the garment, and 
press. Lifting the ruffle out of the way, pin the fold down to the inside of the garment. 
Starting at 1 side seam, stitch around the bottom of the fold with a straight stitch, leaving a 
1" opening from where you started. 

• Be very careful not to sew the ruffle while doing this. 

Step 9 — Add elastic. 

• Cut the 1/2" elastic to fit either your bust or your waist, depending on whether you're 
making a skirt or a dress. For this garment, I recommend using the measurements in 
image 3 as a guide. 

• Attach a large safety pin to 1 end of your elastic and feed it through the 1" hole you left in 
the casing. 

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Swing Shift Ruffles 

Step 10 

• Push the elastic around the entire 
garment. Be careful not to twist the 
elastic or lose the other end in the 
casing. Pull the elastic out, and pin 
to the other end, overlapping about 
1". Sew the 2 ends together using a 
zigzag stitch, then fit the elastic 
into the casing. Close up the hole 
with a straight stitch. 

• To wear, flip the top with the elastic 
to the inside of the dress or skirt, 
so the ruffle appears to come out 
from the inside seamlessly. Adjust 
the gathering on the ruffles, and 
you're done! 

This project first appeared in CRAFT Volume 08 , pages 90-96. 

This document was last generated on 2012-11-03 01 :29:41 AM. 

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